Swimming: Bree fired up for Euros bid after rubbing shoulders with Olympic elite
ANDREW Bree is quietly confident that working with Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima will give him an extra edge at the European Championships in Budapest this week.
Ireland's most successful senior swimmer for the past decade, Bree may have turned 29 but is adamant he has more to offer on the international stage and London 2012 remains the long-term goal as the perfect finish to his career.
Bree made a major decision at the start of the year to move from his long-term base at the University of Tennessee to be with Dr Dave Salo at the University of Southern California and the change of environment seems to have made an impact on the 2003 European short course silver medallist.
"At USC I am surrounded by Olympic champions and Olympic medallists, guys who are at the very top of their game, and, right from the start, I felt so energised by the place," said Bree, who starts his European campaign today in the 100m breaststroke -- along with Barry Murphy -- with his main event, the 200m, on Wednesday.
"I have been training every day with Kitajima, which has just been fantastic, and over the past couple of months we have become pretty good friends. There's a mutual respect and for me, it has been a reminder of the intensity that is required in every training session if you want to fulfil your potential.
"The atmosphere is special there and of course I have been working a lot on my stroke and Salo has made a few adjustments to make sure I get a lot more power in the water.
"I've had a good block of training and now it's time to see what I can do. I know the best is still to come from me and this is all part of the lead-up to 2012. I've mixed with all these guys before and really it's all about on the day, but I've never felt so fired up. I'm more passionate about the sport than ever before and I just keep learning new things to make me better.
"The 100m will give me a good idea of where my speed is at and then it's the big race, the 200m on Wednesday."
Also in action today is Beijing Olympian Melanie Nocher in the 200m backstroke, fresh from setting a new record in her main event at the Irish championships two weeks ago.
"That was the perfect preparation for me," Nocher said. "Training couldn't have been better and now I'm ready to do another PB and see where it takes me."
Irish in action today
Men's 200m freestyle: R Harrison; Women's 400m IM: G Murphy; Men's 100m breaststroke: A Bree, B Murphy; Women's 200m backstroke: M Nocher.
European Aquatics Championships
Live, Eurosport, 8.30